Posted On: November 5, 2019
With severe weather a continuous threat in Florida, the state is developing a network of high-tech, automated monitoring systems to help officials respond more rapidly to menacing meteorological conditions. Called WeatherSTEM, two of the monitoring systems are being installed in Volusia County – thanks to an agreement with the Florida Division of Emergency Management. The Volusia County Council unanimously approved the agreement on Tuesday, paving the way for the systems to be set up in Volusia. While the exact locations haven’t been determined yet, one will be deployed in the Ormond Beach area and the other will be placed in the Oak Hill area. The two systems are among a total of 50 for which the state approved funding earlier this year.
The monitoring systems collect atmospheric data and camera images during severe conditions such as tropical events, providing critical, real-time information about weather impacts even before first responders are able to access affected areas. Funded in part by a $970,000 allocation from the state for all 50 units, the Volusia agreement covers the cost of the equipment and installation of both systems as well as their maintenance for the first three years. After that, the county will pick up the maintenance expenses – about $1,500 per year for each system.
“The WeatherSTEM system will provide the county with very detailed weather information from wind gusts, rain, heat, wind direction, and a high resolution outdoor camera,” states the memo that accompanied Tuesday’s Council agenda item.
According to the WeatherSTEM website, there already are three units in Volusia County – at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Heritage Middle School in Deltona, and Ponce Inlet Town Hall. The units provide publicly accessible weather data from each location, such as temperature, barometer, wind speed and direction, heat index and dew point. Jim Judge, Volusia County’s emergency management director, said the agreement to deploy two more units here is good news for Volusia County.
“We’re fortunate to be receiving these two units,” said Judge. “It’s a real win for Volusia County. Hopefully we can add even more units in the future as funding becomes available.”